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February 28, 2011

Mommy was putting Susie in the bathtub before bed.  When she helped Susie out of her clothes, she was shocked to see blue marker all over Susie’s backside.

Mommy:  “What happened here!  How did all this blue marker get on you?!”

Susie: “Katie and Robbie and me were coloring with markers and we colored each other.”

Mommy immediately gave Susie a little talking to about how she should never pull down her pants, except when she was going to go potty.

Then Susie said:  “I bet Robbie is really going to be in trouble, because we colored his front side!”

A story told to me by a friend about her daughter who is now in her thirties.

You might be surprised at what God is preparing you for!

February 27, 2011

Much of the twenty years Gunny served in the Marines, he was managing (and mentoring) young men in a shop that tested and repaired helicopter parts.  And during that time he got his degree in business and finance with the plan to use his degree to get a job after the Marines.  When he retired after 20 years, he took a job as a manager with a roofing manufacturer, and his favorite part of that job was that he did safety training for employee’s at the company’s plants all over the country.   He really enjoyed that job, but he worked long hours, traveled alot, and he spent almost three hours commuting every day.  So, last year he started looking around for what he could do closer to home.  And when he really thought about it, he realized that what he had enjoyed most in the Marines was working with and teaching young Marines.  And in his civilian job, what he had enjoyed most was training people.  So, he contacted Troops to Teachers and they directed him on the path to getting the training and licensing to become a math (a subject he loves) teacher.  He has just become a high school math teacher in Tulsa and is excited about teaching.  I can imagine that if you had said to that young Marine all those years ago that someday he would be a high school math teacher, he would have said, “No way!”  But apparently God had a plan for him to teach teenagers to not be afraid of math and maybe even come to love it as he does.  And God used his other jobs to prepare him for what I think is going to turn out to be his dream job.

DD was downsized from a very good position as VP of Human Resources with a furniture company last year.  And even though she has diligently sent out resumes and done interviews, she still hasn’t found a job.  But we are proud of how she has handled these trying times.  She is trusting in the Lord to show her what her next job will be.  In the meantime, she is coaching club volleyball, and enjoying it.  Who knows what job is in DD’s future.  But we too are trusting that at some point God will show her the perfect job for her, the one He has prepared her for with all the other jobs and experiences she has had up to now.

More Adventures in Babysitting

February 26, 2011

The post I did last week about The Babysitter brought to mind some other babysitting stories I thought I would share.

My Brother the Babysitter:

My brother was the youngest of my older siblings.  He was 12  years older than me and my sisters were 13, 15 and 16 years older.  So, when I needed a babysitter and all the girls had plans, Jimmy got the job.  I don’t remember for sure, but I think he may have been my favorite babysitter.  If one of the girls stayed with me, it was probably pretty routine — we’d stay at home, they’d read me a few books, and then they’d put me to bed and tell me to go to sleep.  Boooooooorrrrriiiinnnggg.  But if Jimmy was my babysitter, if his friends wanted to go to a movie on a night when he had to babysit, no problem.  They would just take me along!  And Mama always said that when Jimmy was babysitting, it wasn’t unusual to come home late at night and find Jimmy and Sandra laying on the living room floor sleeping … in their clothes, no blankets or pillows.  That had to have been alot more fun for me than sleeping in my bed.  Almost like camping out, but without the tent!

My Favorite Babysitting Job:

As I’ve said before, when I was old enough myself I didn’t babysit very much.  But there is one babysitting job I will always remember.  A friend of mine had a standing once-a-week babysitting job and was going to be on vacation with her family for two weeks.  So she asked me to fill in for her for those two weeks.  The job was in the new neighborhood next to ours which was all beautiful long, low ranch-style homes, in contrast to the small 30-year old bungalows in our neighborhood.

All I had to do was feed the two little kids, give them their bath and then put them to bed.  They were very sweet, agreeable little girls so the job was snap.  But this was a very unique babysitting job in lots of ways.  It only lasted a couple hours.  It was early in the evening.  Because it was for such a short time, the parents paid double the going rate … a dollar an hour.  And it gave me a glimpse of a lifestyle that I thought only existed in the movies.

What was most unique about this job is that the parents were there the whole time!  When I got there the mom, who I remember as being beautiful and dressed in the classiest at-home style of the day, capris, would have an easy meal ready for the girls, which I would supervise them eating.  While I did that, she would start dinner for her and her husband.  Shortly, the handsome husband would arrive home from work in his suit and tie, carrying his briefcase.  He would immediately go change into perfectly pressed slacks and a sports shirt and then go to the patio to start a fire in the grille.

After the girls had eaten, I would take them in to give them their bath.  While I was doing that and putting them to bed, the house would fill with the wonderful smell of grilling steaks.  By the time I was done putting the girls to bed and was ready to walk the few blocks home, he had brought in those wonderful steaks to put on the beautifully set table where she had already put the rest of the meal.  He paid me and I left as they sat down to dinner.

Can you tell that this couple’s sophisticated lifestyle made my 13 year old self absolutely starry-eyed?  Don’t get me wrong, my parents provided a nice life for us.  But my parents were older … and Mama wore house dresses … and we didn’t even have one of those new outdoor grilles, mainly because we never ate steak!  Nope, we were more the pot roast kind of people.  And when Daddy got home from work, he would just take off his jacket and shoes and sit down in his favorite chair to read the paper and/or doze until dinner was ready.  (He was a general foreman in a manufacturing plant, so he wore slacks and a sport shirt to work.)

It’s interesting when you arrive at the time in your growing-up years when you realize that not everyone’s home life is just like yours.  This babysitting job was definitely one of those moments!  I was truly sorry when my friend returned from vacation and I didn’t have to go to that job any more.

My Most Unusual Babysitting Job:

There was a brother and sister who lived across the street from us.  He was a year younger than me and his sister was two years younger than him.  Most of the time Mike and Pat got along pretty well, but when they got old enough to stay at home by themselves apparently Mike would become an alpha male and boss Pat around, and even locked her in the basement one time.  So, their very smart mother thought of a solution.  She hired me to “babysit” for Mike them.  I was 13, Mike was 12 and Pat was 10.  Pat was fine with that because she liked me and besides it would give her an ally.  But, no surprise, Mike was beside himself that his mom would hire a babysitter for him — especially when the “babysitter” was the girl across the street who he went to school with and who was only a year older than him!  But his mom wouldn’t relent and apparently her plan worked.  I only “babysat” for Mike and Pat one time.  My guess is that from then on, all their parents had to say was that they would get a babysitter again if things didn’t go smoothly when Mike and Pat were left home alone. Problem solved.

Don’t Hire Sleeping Beauty to Babysit:

When our children were very little we sometimes hired the girl next door to babysit.  One time when we came home the door was locked (we normally didn’t lock our doors) so we knocked and the babysitter didn’t come to the door.  When we knocked again and she didn’t come, Hubby went to a window and looked in.  She was sleeping on the couch.  We knocked and knocked and could not wake that girl up.  So we did the only thing we could think to do … we went next door to her parent’s house and called her on the phone.  At least the phone woke her up.  Any surprise that we didn’t use “sleeping beauty” any more?  And it didn’t hurt our relationship with the neighbors because I don’t think she liked to babysit anyway.

By the way, in case you’re wondering why we didn’t use a key to let ourselves in … we didn’t have one!  This was around 1970 and we lived in a very old house in a small, safe town.  We didn’t need a key because we just didn’t lock the doors.  The babysitter must have gotten scared and locked them.

Our Own Babysitting Service:

I don’t remember how we first met this family, but they had four daughters and all four of them babysat for us at some point.  They were great girls and terrific babysitters.

Case in point, one time when we came home we immediately knew something was wrong because there was an unfamiliar car parked in the driveway and it seemed like every light in the house was on.  We went inside to find out that DD had gotten sick.  But rather than call us, the babysitter had called her mother.  So her mother hod come over, taken care of sick little DD with the efficiency you might expect from a mother of seven children, and DD was cleaned up, feeling better and back in her bed on her way to sleep.  Not only that, but because her mother was already there, all we had to do was pay the babysitter and then her mother took her home!  Any questions why we used these sisters as our babysitting service until the last one went away to college and the babysitter “well” dried up?  I think I did mention to Mrs. R. one time that I wished she would have more daughters.  She laughed.  I guess that was a “no”.  A great family who when you hired a daughter, you got the mom too!

Ralph, the Babysitter:

When our kids were almost old enough to stay by themselves, but not quite, we hired our only boy babysitter, Ralph.  He had been recommended by someone I worked with, and he was a mixed blessing, depending on who you asked for an evaluation.

Gunny loved Ralph as a babysitter because Ralph would play whatever Gunny wanted to play, like Stratego or Monopoly.  But DD was used to having girl babysitters who naturally tended to play whatever she wanted to play.  So DD was not impressed.

Ralph was our last babysitter and I think at least one of our children would say he was the best!

The Future-Marine Babysitter

Both of our children babysat.  And there was one family whose first choice for a babysitter was always Gunny.  They had two very adored adopted children — a sweet little boy and his bratty younger sister.  This little girl would fool you if you just saw her in public — she was a beautiful, fragile-looking little blonde.  But apparently she had another, not as sweet side to her personality, and it was used on babysitters.  Gunny told us one time that she had picked a little desk up over her head and would have thrown it at him if he hadn’t been quick enough to grab it first.

I think successfully babysitting for that very strong-willed little princess was probably one of the things that made Gunny a great Marine!

I think that babysitting provides many life lessons for those who babysit and even, sometimes, for those who are the babysitt-ees.

Not “Art Deco”, “Ice Deck-o”

February 23, 2011

The small deck outside our bedroom is still wooden, so the wood itself is much more interesting than the large deck off the sunroom which we replaced a year ago with the new (supposedly) wears-forever decking.

In the Winter, the door to the bedroom deck doesn’t get opened very often.  But the other day I opened it to look at something in the yard (probably snow because that’s just about all there has been in the yard recently), and noticed these leaves on and holes in the icy snow covering the deck.  There is a pergola over it so I imagine the holes were made by water dripping from it.

There were a few leaves on top of the icy snow.

I like this picture because the ice looks lacy and almost transparent and the green discoloration on the wood adds a little color.

Angles, textures, a little color.

And the hole on the left is the reason I went to get my camera in the first place.  I just happened to glance down and saw this perfectly shaped heart.

When we had an ice storm a couple years ago, the interest on that deck was when you looked up!

Grandma and I share a “look”

February 22, 2011

A friend told me that the big locally owned shoe store where I can always find what I want, was having a boot sale — 70% off.  Perfect.  I wanted a pair of boots that had low heels, so I trotted on over there and found just exactly what I needed, and at a verrrrry good price.

These really look nice with a pair of slacks, but when you see the whole boot, they look an awful lot like the button shoes women in the early 1900’s wore.

But this modern version has zippers that make them easy to put on and take off.

Stick around long enough and old things will become new again … but with zippers.

Live for Today

February 20, 2011

Our nephew’s little boy, Cooper has a new tumor.  As you can imagine this is devastating news to all of us.

Cooper was three years old last August.  His first brain tumor was discovered a year before that, right around his second birthday.

Justin and Elise have worked tirelessly ever since the first tumor was discovered to provide the very best care and treatment possible for Coop. And the witness of faith these parents have been to all who know them or just read their posts on Cooper’s Carepage is unbelievable.

Here is an excerpt from the latest post Justin wrote on the Carepage:

So despite all the emotions and feelings of the past week we are now in the mode of taking the next steps required of Cooper’s treatment plan. As a result, next week Cooper will undergo a surgery that will insert a port into his brain that will allow a new chemo formulation to be applied directly to the tumor location, taking away the challenge of trying to pass the blood brain barrier that protects all our brains but also makes it difficult for chemo to get to the “bad” cells. Our hope in this plan is to stabilize this aggressive tumor and give us as much time as possible, and keep the doors and options open for medical intervention and miracles.

We are also trying to enjoy every moment as they come. The great, although sometimes difficult thing is that Cooper, since leaving the hospital, has shown more energy and clear and coherent thoughts and speech then we have seen in many months. He is happy and wants to sing, draw, play with his sister and gives lots of laughs and smiles. In fact we no longer face the issue of Cooper sleeping long hours during the day, but instead he struggles sleeping through the night, most likely due to the steroids they have him on to stop any swelling that is taking place in his brain. So enjoying those every moment often are coming at 1:00 am when Super Cooper is in rare form and ready to play, draw, sing or eat….we will take them whenever they come!

May God bless them with courage, faith and peace.  And may this remind all of us to appreciate those we love today, because none of us know what tomorrow brings.

Best Advice of the Week: New Fit for an Oven Mitt

February 19, 2011

When I made the Apple Pancake recipe a few weeks ago (where you bake it in the oven in a skillet), Hubby and I both forgot that the skillet handle was hot when we were serving ourselves and touched it.  So, I looked in the cabinet where I keep hot pads to get one for us to use to hold the skillet handle.

But, lo and behold, there in the back of the cabinet was something which is hardly ever used, but seemed perfect for this need.  An oven mitt!  Not only does putting it over the handle remind us that the handle is hot but it also makes it very easy to pick up.

The other recipe I make that calls for baking in a skillet in the oven is Easy Butter Chicken.  And, as you can see, I used this idea then too.  (FYI, that’s Lemon Pepper seasoning I had put on it that time — very good.)

If everyone in the world has already discovered this idea but me, just move on and have a nice day.  But I was delighted when I discovered a nifty new fit for my seldom-used oven mitt.

He said, Me said

February 18, 2011

I was sitting in my chair in the bedroom, reading.  Hubby walked in with a mischievous look on his face.  I know this man well, so I felt a punch line coming.  So I put my book down and waited.

“When did you make that cake in the fridge?”


“Wow!  That’s what I thought.  Where did it all go?!”

“Linda dropped me off after lunch, and I gave her half of it to take home for her and Doug.”

“Oh.  I just wondered.”

I smiled.  He smiled back and strolled out.

As I went back to reading I was still smiling because, obviously, Hubby was suggesting that maybe I had eaten half a cake!

I love it that he still, after all these years, doesn’t doubt that I can do things that will surprise him!  But I’m just glad that this time he was giving me too much credit.

The Babysitter

February 16, 2011

Judy was in her early teens and just getting her feet wet in the world of babysitting.  But, unfortunately, with one of her first jobs she had not just put her tootsies in the water but had apparently jumped in at the deep end!

A young couple were going out for the evening and had asked Judy to babysit for Maggie, six and Jake, eight.  There was also a yappy little dog, which made Judy almost as nervous as the kids.   She lived on a farm so even though her family had a dog, it was an outside dog.  She had never had any experience with a dog that lived in the house.

She quickly found out that these were some really high energy kids. They were runners, jumpers and yellers and constantly asking her questions and wanting her to play a game with them or let them eat a snack.  Judy had three little brothers so she was used to some chaos, but these two took chaos to a whole new level!

About mid-evening, even to Judy’s untrained ear and over the loudness of the kid’s antics, she could tell that Yappy was getting more and more excited and, if possible, even yappier.  So Judy asked Jake and Maggie what they thought was wrong with Yappy.  They said he probably needed to go outside to potty and that Mommy and Daddy always took him out the back door.

So Judy and the kids went to the back door to let Yappy out.  But as soon as Judy barely opened the door, Yappy shot out the door like he had been shot out of a cannon.  And then as Judy watched in shocked disbelief, Yappy didn’t stop in the yard (which she now realized wasn’t fenced) but disappeared into the night, still running at full speed when last seen.

Judy turned to Jake and Maggie and said, “I thought you said we should let him out the back door!”  And Jake replied, “Yes but Mommy and Daddy always put a leash on him before they open the door.”  Well the omission of that little piece of information was water under the bridge now.

Judy immediately stepped out on the back stoop, even though it was winter and even though she had taken her shoes off, and started calling Yappy’s name.  But she didn’t realize that Jake and Maggie had also stepped out on the stoop, also in their stocking feet … until she heard the door slam shut.  She immediately turned around and tried the door handle.  It was locked.

Okay, none of her babysitting friends when describing what easy money it was to just watch people’s children for an evening, had ever told Judy how to handle problems like dogs that run away or what to do if you and the children get locked out of the house.  So she did the only thing she could think to do — she herded her no-coats-or-shoes charges next door, where thankfully someone was home.  Then she used the neighbor’s phone to make the call no babysitter ever wants to make.  She called the parents and told them they might need to come home because the dog had run away and her and their children were locked out of the house.

I’ve heard this story many times over the years (since I’m related to Judy), but I’ve never heard about what happened when the parents got home.  But in my adult life I did happen to get to know this couple and they are/were (he has passed away) a great, fun-loving couple, so I can’t believe they gave Judy too much flack about what happened.

And the reason I’m pretty sure the parents weren’t too upset is that I know Judy babysat for them at least one more time after that.  And the reason I know that, is because there is an interesting story about that night too.

The other story I’ve heard about Judy babysitting for Maggie and Jake was that when she let them out of her sight for just a few minutes, they disappeared!  She called and called for them and could N.O.T find them.  So, she again did the only thing she knew to do.  She called the parents and told them she had lost the kids.

Sometime between the time Judy called the parents and the time they arrived home, Jake and Maggie reappeared.  They had been hiding on the shelf in a closet and thought it was hilarious that she hadn’t been able to find them and had had to call their parents again.

This may have been the last time Judy babysat for this particular family.  And I can’t imagine that she would have been sad about that.  I would think by this time she would be thinking, “No amount of money I make for this babysitting job is worth it.”

Judy grew up to be a wonderful mother, wife and RN and was eventually able to see the humor in her two Jake and Maggie stories.

Jake grew up to graduate from a military academy and have a very successful career in the military which culminated in being an instructor at his alma mater.

Maggie grew up to be a loving mother of three boys (I wonder if her boys ever gave her as much grief as she and her brother gave Judy.) and a well-respected high school teacher.

So, all’s well that ends well, I guess.  But I never babysat very much and every time I’ve heard these stories, it’s made me very glad that I didn’t.

Random Winter

February 15, 2011

This Amish buggy horse ran out to meet us as we drove by.  Hmm.  Makes me wonder if his experience has been that “English” cars driving by sometimes stop and offer apples!